Noble melody

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  February 3, 2009

They plunged into Janácek's spiky/folksy Sonata, with its weird little outbursts and mysterious rumblings, its manic dance energy and tender melody, then followed with Brahms's D-minor Violin Sonata, his last. I prefer their lean, more linear Brahms to its more familiar plush, so the melodies seemed more lilting than intense and I could follow the lines that make up the harmony before the final rhapsodic Presto agitato. Tetzlaff began with a delicate sweetness before turning his violin into a viola, or cello. Andsnes began with dark undercurrents before the full blossom of their intertwining. They put the Mozart sonata (F major, K.377, with its haunting central D-minor theme-and-variation movement) after intermission (not in its more usual place as an opening warm-up), giving it more weight, and ended with a performance of Schubert's brilliant B-minor Rondo brillant that provided this virtuoso showpiece with more musical substance than I'd credited it with. Two lively, appealing Sibelius Danses champêtres were the unfamiliar encores, and they left me very happy.

PS: I wrote last week that the Handel and Haydn Society's Haydn Orfeo (Haydn's final opera) had probably never been heard in Boston before. In fact, its American premiere was presented at MIT, in 1965, with tenor Richard Conrad in the title role. There were terrific reviews in all the local papers.

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